Personal New Year Resolutions Part IIDirectly or indirectly, nothing happens in business without humans. What better reason to make sure our human assets are as well maintained as are our other assets?
Personal Resolution Five: I resolve to work harder to maintain balance in my life between my business, my family, my health, and my spirit.
Flight is one of the great benefits humans have acquired from the employment of mechanical advantage. When you see an airplane in flight there are three forces at work to create this benefit: thrust, lift, and control surfaces. In order for an airplane to fly successfully, meaning where the pilot wants it to go, all three must be working in concert.
These three forces are also in evidence when you see successful entrepreneurs. In an airplane, thrust comes from the engines. For entrepreneurs, thrust is their vision and determination to accomplish their goals.
Lift in an airplane comes from the airfoils - the wings. Entrepreneurial lift comes from practicing sound and stable operating fundamentals.
In an airplane, the control surfaces are ailerons, elevators, and rudder. In an entrepreneur, the control surfaces are all of the aspects of a healthy human life: physical, mental, cultural, familial, and spiritual.
A well-piloted entrepreneurial plan recognizes that a business with only thrust and lift becomes an out-of-control rocket destined to crash. But when appropriate and intentional influence from the control surfaces is added, entrepreneurial lift and thrust become productive and meaningful forces.
Gain and maintain balance in your professional and personal life by making sure your entrepreneurial airplane operates with the three forces of entrepreneurial flight: thrust, lift, AND control surfaces.
Personal Resolution Six: I resolve to turn the TV off one night a week and just read.
Someone once said, the people you meet and the books you read will determine who you will be five years from now. I can see that. My life has certainly been significantly influenced by the behavior and words of others.
I don't know what this says about me, but I don't read fiction. I prefer to read what an author has to say about real life - ideas, events, people, and what they or someone else has done, seen, or thought.
Remember when there were only three channels but you could always find something good on television? Ever notice that now with scores of channels there is often nothing to watch? Next time you're clicking through the channels and can't find anything you like, turn it off and read a book. It might change your life.
Personal Resolution Seven: I resolve to read at least two newspapers every day (one local, one national).
Out in fly-over America, you should read the Local Daily for obvious reasons. But I would like to encourage you to also read at least one national paper every day, like The Wall Street Journal (my choice), USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, etc. These publications have excellent writers (whether you agree with them or not), and they often break the news.
One thing to remember about the national papers: you have to learn how to read them. Since they are usually pretty thick, it can take hours if you try to read the whole thing like you do the Local Daily. The way to read a national paper is to focus on the sections you like and just scan the headlines for something that catches your eye.
As much as I like my papers, I have noticed that it takes less time to read them than it used to. By the time I sit down to read the paper, I've already seen a lot of the news on one of the cable news channels, or on the Internet. But even though I'm allergic to newsprint (it makes me sneeze) I still like my local paper in the morning and my WSJ in the evening.
I know this makes me sound like a romantic fossil, but I believe newspapers are part of America's national treasures. They are the embodiment of the liberty the Founders held so dear that they made it the first order of business when they constructed our Constitution.
Read a local and a national newspaper every day. Perhaps one day this will change, but for now, I think the content newspapers deliver is valid enough to compensate for a few hours of delay in the delivery of information.
Personal Resolution Eight: I resolve to learn all I can about great people in history.
I am fascinated by how individuals have changed the world: one person standing alone, with courage, vision, and spirit, sticking his or her finger in the eye of convention, and causing the world to take note.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of examples - some famous and some infamous: Moses, Newton, Washington, Lincoln, Edison, Lenin, just to name a few. Never mind whether you agree with their politics or ideas. These are individuals who changed the world.
When you take the time to study one or more of these people, you will find two basic things about them: what made them great, and that they were all mere mortals, like you and me.
The former information is typically well documented and well known. Obviously, a leader or genius must have good press to get his or her message out. But the things I look for when studying great individuals is the latter - their humanity: how they faced doubt, physical disabilities, insecurities, character flaws, and especially failure, and yet persevered to influence not only their contemporary world, but also future generations.
When I study the human side of the great people in history, it helps me put my own personal and professional struggle in perspective. Moses stuttered. Washington had no impressive military credential prior to the Revolutionary War. Lincoln, with virtually no formal education, suffered many more failures and setbacks than successes in his life. Edison, with a head so large his father thought he might be "addled," had very little formal education, was afflicted with what we would call attention deficit disorder, plus he suffered profound hearing loss by the time he reached adulthood.
One word of caution as you study great people: The more we know about their human frailties and failures limits the excuses we can use for not being all we can be.
Write this on a rock... As you forge ahead with your professional goals, don't forget to take care of the human being responsible for accomplishing those goals.